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PostJesus Christ and Robin Hood (Ronald Hilton, USA, 02/16/99 4:06 am)
George Will has ridiculed an Anglican priest in England who put up a
poster showing Jesus Christ dressed like Che Guevara, with the words
"Jesus Christ was a bigger revolutionary than Che Guevara." Will
dismisses it as a desperate attempt to rebuild a disappearing flock.
Perhaps so, but it is interesting that Che Guevara has become a cult figure even in England. It is really a revival of the Robin Hood story, which has enjoyed renewed popularity. In the Che version, the United States corresponds to the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Let us remember that in Robin Hood's period, the Catholic Church was sharply divided. In the Peasant Revolt of 1381, Jack Cade and his rebels killed an archbishop, but some lower clergy supported Cade. Robin Hood had Friar Tuck. In Havana meanwhile the Che-Christ combination was at work. Fidel Castro announced harsh measures to fight U.S. influence, including the death penalty, while an Inter-American Conference of Bishops was being held there at the same time. The Cathedral was overflowing, and religious demonstrations were held. Even before Castro, Cuba was not deeply Catholic, so these were quite new. Prelates proclaimed the need for social justice. There was no criticism of Che Guevara. Although the organization of the conference was not clear, the fact that bishops came from all over Latin America is significant. The United States and the Catholic Church may be on a collision course.
Tim Brown, who is just back from Cuba, writes:
"I have often seen cults of the personality, Franco in Spain, Stroessner in Paraguay, Somoza in Nicaragua. But today's Cuba is a first for me: a cult of two personalities, Castro, in power and glory, Che Guevara, whose picture is even more ubiquitous. Actually, for Castro Che is the ideal cult figure, a popular hero long dead. No matter that one of Che's closest guerrilla colleagues who served with him in the Sierra Maestra, then Africam then Bolivia, has recently denounced Castro for having deliberately sent Che to his death [Memoirs of a Cuban Soldier, "Benigno", with forward by Regis Debray's wife]. Another friend of mine, a life long Marxist revolutionary who knew both Castro and Che intimately, told me the same story last year. But then reality is rarely allowed to impinge on officially promoted legends."